Art of listening

Communication and listening

“Learning means keeping the mind open and active to receive all kinds of experience.”

We spend between 50% and 80% of our working hours spend in communicating.Atleast 45% of that communication time is spent in listening. In schools the percentage is even higher, with students spending between 60% and 70% of their class room time listening. And in the business world, listening is often cited as one of the top three most critically necessary managerial skills…Now depending on you —–adopt it or not.

Reasons for poor listening:

“You have two ears and one mouth because you should listen twice as much as you talk”


Commandments for good listening:

  1. Maintain aural health: Make sure that your hearing apparatus is in good health. There are many specialists who can check and assist you in this area.
  2. Train your ears: Consciously practice ‘analytical hearing’. This consists of getting yourself back to the ‘state of nature’ in which your mind and ears were attuned to all sounds in the environment, while at the same time concentrating on those that were most important.
  3. Maintain general health: ’A healthy mind in a healthy body’ – is a sound observation. If you maintain a general physical fitness, especially aerobic, all your senses will improve, including your hearing.
  4.  Stop tlking: you are not learning anything when you are talking, and you should aware of biases or values that distort what hear.
  5. Put the talker at ease: Make him at home so that he is free to talk.
  6. Show him you want to listen: Look and act interested. Do not read anything while he talks. Your lack of interest will discourage him, and developing the attitude of wanting to listen.
  7. Listen Opportunistically :When you are obliged to listen to something, even when it may be boring, always ask, ‘what’s in it for me?’
  8. Eye contact: Build eye contact with spokesman, and face toward the speaker.
  9. Listen Longer: It is often said that the wiser the person the less that person speaks and the more he or she (hoe) listens. In any listening situation, try to with-hold judgment until the speaker has finished speaking and your comprehension is complete. Try to avoid making a judgment before you have the whole picture.
  10.  Remove distraction: do not scrawl,tap or shuffle papers. It would be better if you shut the door. Privacy re-assures the speaker.
  11. Empathize with the talk and are close enough to hear:  Student makes you sober and worth speaking to try to put yourself in his place so that you can see his point of views.
  12. Challenge your brain: You can stimulate your brain and improve your overall learning and listening dskills by occasionally exposing yourself to more ‘advanced’ material. Try not to feel oppressed or to resist such difficult material, but to enter it with enthusiasm.
  13. Consciously work at listening: Actively decide that listening is going to become one of your personal skills, and in listening situations exhibit a truly active mental and body state, rather than faking attention.
  14. Be patient: do not interrupt him, allow plenty of time, do not start for the door or walk away, do not cut in, and do not interrupt especially to correct mistakes or make points.
  15. Hold your temper: If you lose your temper, you may get wrong perceptions, losing temper is your defeat.
  16. Listen for these essential phrases from the speaker: “This is important….”,”It is essential that you know this…”, and “you will need to know this for the test…”
  17. Use synesthesia: Synesthesia is your mental ability to blend your various senses, when you are listening, keep your other especially sight, actively involved. The more you can link your senses, the better your hearing, attention, understanding, and general learning will be.
  18.  Maintain an open mind:  When words are spoken that press your emotional triggers, try to interpret them in a more objective light, and to understand the perspective from which the speaker speaks. Even if you disagree, realize that the points of view you are hearing are indeed points of view, just as are yours.
  19. Use brain-speed : Your brain can think four to ten times faster than the speed of speech. Therefore, while you are listening, use your extra mental abilities to anticipate, organize, summarize, weigh, and compare arguments, listen between the lines, and interpret body language, etc . With especially slow speakers you can develop this skill more completely, rather than giving in to a tendency to day dream and lose concentration.
  20. Identify feelings: Identify feelings through non-verbal, voice tone and body language, study its gesture, or kinesics.
  21. Judge content, not delivery: While listening, try not to get involved in a ‘Superiority complex’ concerning any in adequacies in delivery and style that the speaker might have. Concentrate fully on the content.
  22. Listen for ideas: Your brain works more efficiently if it can grasp ‘ wholes’. Therefore listen for central themes rather than for individual facts. If you do this the facts will take care of themselves, linking easily to the main structures that your brain will construct when it listens for ideas.   
  23. Take it easy on arguments and criticism: How many calm you or get angry , in both cases he will lose.
  24. Take mind-map notes: In  conjunction with listening for ideas, your comprehension, understanding, retention, and recall will be far greater if you take highly efficient mind-map notes rather than standard lineal or list notes. Mind –map notes involve your entire left and right brains, and consequently improve overall listening performance dramatically.
  25. Disregard distractions: If there are distractions, do not get hung up on them Accept that they are there, and consciously remind yourself that your mind has the ability to block out, if it wishes, virtually anything it does not wish to pay attention to. Concentrate on the positive.
  26. Take breaks: Whenever possible, make sure that you have breaks from listening every thirty to sixty minutes (or your own fatigue time). These breaks will give your brain the time it needs for integration, as well as giving you far more of the primacy  effects.
  27. Use your imagination: Although listening may seem to be dealing with left side of brain words only, it is infact a whole brain process. So when you are listening towards, create, as much and as appropriately as you can, mental images of the ideas you are receiving.
  28. Listen with active pose: Develop the same physical attitude of poise and alertness when you are listening as an animal has when it is listening. Slouched and slumped postural attitudes will automatically collapse your listening abilities.
  29. Points without heading: 1-Look for the feelings and basic assumptions underlying remarks.2-Concentrate on what is being said, not what you want to hear. 3- Avoid rehearsing answers while the other person is talking.4-Do not insist on having the last word.5-Think ’around’ the topic and ‘between the lines’ ,also relate it to what you already know.6-Do not confuse listening with hearing.7- To listen you must be thinking. Listening is an active, not passive activity.
  30. Content and feeling: Include content and feelings.
  31. Summarize the lecture: Summarize what you understand the other person is saying.
  32. Remember you can continually improve with age: All listening skills will improve if they are nurtured in a mental environment of positive thought about age.
  33. Practice speaking communication skills : If you practice your own speaking communication skills, you will get a perspective on listening ‘from the other side’.